Ontario supports $2B phase of Pickering nuclear refurbishment

Key Takeaways:

  • The initial phase includes engineering and design work as well as securing long-lead components that can require years for manufacturing.
  • This phase will last through the end of 2024. All the work is anticipated to be completed by the mid-2030s.
  • the refurbishment of Pickering is expected to increase Ontario’s GDP by $19.4 billion over the 11-year project period.

The Whole Story:

The Ontario government is supporting Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) plan to proceed with the next steps toward refurbishing Pickering Nuclear Generating Station’s “B” units (units 5-8). Once refurbished, Pickering would produce a total of 2,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity, equivalent to powering two million homes. 

“With global business looking to expand in jurisdictions with reliable, affordable and clean electricity, a refurbished Pickering Nuclear Generating Station would help Ontario compete for and land more game-changing investments,” said Todd Smith, minister of energy. “The refurbishment of Pickering would create thousands of new jobs and help produce at least another 30 years of safe, reliable and clean electricity to power the next major international investment, the new homes we are building and industries as they grow and electrify.”

OPG will now proceed with the project initiation phase of refurbishment which will last through the end of 2024. The government is supporting OPG’s $2 billion budget for this phase which includes engineering and design work as well as securing long-lead components that can require years for manufacturing. By placing orders in advance with key suppliers, OPG will ensure materials are available when Ontario needs them and help keep costs down. OPG and its business partners will also identify potential Indigenous engagement opportunities in contracting, employment and other economic benefits related to the project.

“With new investments and jobs coming to Ontario and the population growing rapidly, our province needs clean and affordable energy that all communities can rely on,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, MPP for Pickering-Uxbridge. “To meet this growing electricity demand, we are expanding Ontario’s generation capacity, conducting Canada’s largest clean energy storage procurement, and expanding energy efficiency programs.”

Based on OPG’s preliminary schedule, the refurbishment of Pickering Nuclear Generation Station is anticipated to be completed by the mid-2030s. According to independent preliminary analysis by the Conference Board of Canada, the refurbishment of Pickering is expected to increase Ontario’s GDP by $19.4 billion over the 11-year project period. The project is also expected to create about 11,000 jobs per year. Post-refurbishment operation of the facility is expected to also create and sustain about 6,410 Ontario jobs per year for decades.

“Today’s announcement is a testament to the highly skilled Pickering Nuclear team, whose focus on safety and performance allows the station to reliably power the equivalent of more than two million Ontario homes,” said Ken Hartwick, OPG president and CEO. “Our experience refurbishing Darlington, a highly complex project that remains on time and on budget, will be invaluable as we begin the work necessary so Pickering can continue to help meet the growing electricity demands of this thriving province for another three-plus decades.”

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) concluded that the Pickering refurbishment would provide better overall ratepayer value in terms of costs and risks, when compared against non-emitting generation alternatives.

Ontario will follow a multi-phase approvals process. The project is also subject to regulatory approval by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). The CNSC is the federal nuclear regulator responsible for licensing nuclear power plants and overseeing their safe operation in Canada.

Key Takeaways:

  • The decision comes after direction from Ontario’s minister of energy to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), outlining next steps related to the project including a cost recovery agreement.
  • Using water and gravity, pumped storage acts like a giant battery. It stores excess electricity when demand is low and makes it available when it is high.
  • If built, the facility would provide 1,000 MW of flexible energy to Ontario’s electricity system.
  • It is expected that construction for the project would begin in the latter part of this decade with in-service in the early 2030s.

The Whole Story:

TC Energy Corporation announced this month that it will continue to advance the Ontario Pumped Storage Project with its prospective partner Saugeen Ojibway Nation, and begin work with the Ministry of Energy and the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), to establish a potential long-term revenue framework. Further, TC Energy and Saugeen Ojibway Nation will assist with the ministry’s evaluation of the Project’s broader societal and economic benefits.

The decision comes after direction from Ontario’s minister of energy to the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO), outlining next steps related to the project including a cost recovery agreement. Subject to an agreement with the IESO, this direction from the minister will facilitate the continued development of the project, that if constructed, will support Ontario’s long-term plans to grow the economy and build a sustainable, reliable and clean electricity system.

TC Energy and Saugeen Ojibway Nation stated that they look forward to continuing work with the Ministry, the IESO and the OEB to advance the project, which they say will play an important role in accelerating the province’s ambitious plans for clean economic growth.

Using water and gravity, pumped storage acts like a giant battery. It stores excess electricity when demand is low and makes it available when it is high.

The Ontario Pumped Storage Project will be designed, engineered, and built by a domestic supply chain. During construction, the project will create 1,000 unionized jobs and over 75% of the total materials and supplies will be provided by Ontario-based companies.

Based on feedback from stakeholders and Indigenous groups, the project team opted to completely re-designed the project to enhance protections for Georgian Bay & near-shore environments.

The project remains subject to the approval of TC Energy’s board of directors and Saugeen Ojibway Nation. It is expected that construction for the project would begin in the latter part of this decade with in-service in the early 2030s, subject to receipt of regulatory and corporate approvals. Further, any future capital allocation decisions will align with TC Energy’s net capital expenditure limit of $6-7 billion post-2024.

 The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) estimates that Ontario needs 5,000 to 15,000 megawatts (MW) of new electricity production by 2035. When operational, the OPSP will provide 1,000 MW of flexible, clean energy to Ontario’s electricity system — enough to power a million homes for up to 11 hours.

Key Takeaways:

  • The over $40 billion Apartment Construction Loan Program is providing low-cost financing to build more than 101,000 new rental homes across Canada by 2031-32.
  • Ottawa announced plans to expand the program to include housing for students.
  • The announcement comes just days after Otrtawa revealed plans to set an intake cap on international student permit applications to stabilize new growth for a period of two year

The Whole Story:

The federal government has turned its attention to the construction of student housing in its ongoing efforts to address the nation’s affordable housing crisis. 

The Government of Canada will be offering low-cost loans to build more student housing on- and off-campus. They stated that by reforming the Apartment Construction Loan Program, the country will be able to help more students find housing they can afford close to where they study, and help ensure that there are more homes available for families who live in those same communities year-round.

The over $40 billion Apartment Construction Loan Program, formerly known as the Rental Construction Financing Initiative, is providing low-cost financing to build more than 101,000 new rental homes across Canada by 2031-32.

Reforms to the Apartment Construction Loan Program will permit post-secondary institutions to access low-cost loans for student housing construction. The application process is expected to be open in 2024. 

The 2023 Fall Economic Statement announced an additional $15 billion in low-cost loans for the Apartment Construction Loan Program and an additional $1 billion in new funding for the Affordable Housing Fund.

“By allowing post-secondary institutions to access low-cost loans in order to build more student housing, we will help more students find affordable places to live close to where they study, and help ensure there are more homes available for families and folks who live in the community nearby,” said Housing Minister Sean Fraser.

The announcement comes just days after Otrtawa revealed plans to set an intake cap on international student permit applications to stabilize new growth for a period of two years. For 2024, the cap is expected to result in approximately 360,000 approved study permits, a decrease of 35% from 2023. 

Individual provincial and territorial caps have been established, weighted by population, which will result in much more significant decreases in provinces where the international student population has seen the most unsustainable growth, officials said. Study permit renewals will not be impacted. Those pursuing master’s and doctoral degrees, and elementary and secondary education are not included in the cap. Current study permit holders will not be affected.

Soon after the federal announcement, some provinces also introduced new measures to curb international student numbers. Ontario announced a moratorium on new public-private college partnerships. Officials also said they plan to require all colleges and universities to “guarantee that housing options are available for incoming students,” and reinforce oversight of programs with high numbers of international students. B.C. promised to ban new post-secondary institutions from applying to enrol international students for the next two years, as the province roots out “exploitive practices”.

Key Takeaways:

  • The funds will focus on increasing the participation of underrepresented groups, such as women, newcomers, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, and racialized Canadians, in the Red Seal trades.
  • They will go towards two projects: one with Build A Dream to Empower Women and the other with Women’s Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor.
  • According to the latest data from BuildForce Canada, women make up roughly 12.8% of the Canadian construction sector.

The Whole Story:

Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages, Randy Boissonnault, has announced funding for over $7.3 million for two projects through the Canadian Apprenticeship Strategy’s Union Training and Innovation Program (UTIP) – Innovation in Apprenticeship Stream. These projects will improve the participation of underrepresented groups, such as women, newcomers, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, and racialized Canadians, in the Red Seal trades.

Through the first project titled Diversifying the Talent Pipelines for In-demand Red Seal Trades, Build a Dream to Empower Women will receive more than $4 million over two years to help up to 18,000 underrepresented apprentices in Ontario, Alberta and Nova Scotia improve their overall skills and competencies in leadership and team building. Participants will also get support to upgrade their technical skills through hands-on experience. In collaboration with unions and employers, the organization will help participants find work placements in the Red Seal trades.

As part of the second project, Women’s Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor Inc. (WEST) will receive more than $3 million over four years for their SMART for Women project to help up to 400 unrepresented apprentices to progress and succeed in their apprenticeships. WEST will provide math refresher courses; assist participants to enroll in technical training courses offered by trades schools and training providers; and provide participants with wrap-around supports, such as childcare and financial support, so they can complete their apprenticeship training successfully and pursue in-demand jobs.

“Investing in training and opportunities for Canadian workers is how we fill critical labour gaps across Canada,” said Boissonnault. “Build a Dream to Empower Women and Women’s Enterprise Skills Training of Windsor Inc are doing this work on the ground and directly supporting the future of Windsor’s workforce. This $7.3 million investment will strengthen our workforce and grow our economy, and support middle class jobs for the people of Windsor.”

Build A Dream to Empower Women collaborates with speakers, community leaders, and businesses to inspire female students, women and under-represented communities.

Key Takeaways:

  • The acquisition is expected to close on February 4. 
  • The two companies will have a combined 1,000-person team that can leverage shared tools, processes, and resources.
  • Post acquisition, Dynamysk will continue to operate independently out of its Calgary and Sherwood Park offices, with a transition to Allnorth planned for later in the year. 

The Whole Story:

Allnorth Consultants Limited has announced its plans to acquire Dynamysk Automation Ltd., a provider of instrumentation, controls (automation), and electrical (ICE) solutions.

Allnorth stated that since its inception in 2006, Dynamysk has excelled by the integration of engineering, inspections, commissioning and installation, to offer full-service solutions over the entire project lifecycle to their clients. 

The company noted that it has worked with the Dynamysk team to confirm strong alignment in core values. Both Allnorth and Dynamysk said they prioritize a focus on the well-being of their teams, strong client relationships, and profitability. They added this strong alignment in core values will promote a cultural fit between the two companies, which can facilitate a smooth integration process.Leadership teams from both companies have identified synergies that can accelerate growth initiatives, enhance service offerings, and improve profitability. 

The two companies will have a combined 1,000-person team that can leverage shared tools, processes, and resources. The companies noted that the acquisition also lays the foundation for further organic expansion, supported by Dynamysk’s innovative quality and completions software solutions, like RFO Central (Ready for Operations).

“The acquisition of Dynamysk Automation is a significant milestone in our journey to provide opportunities for our team to provide comprehensive solutions to our valued clients. We look forward to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead as we embark on this journey together,” said Darby Kreitz, CEO of Allnorth.

The integration of Dynamysk’s instrumentation, controls (automation), and electrical team significantly enhances Allnorth’s service offerings. Dynamysk’s clients will benefit from Allnorth’s expertise in civil, structural and mechanical engineering as well as geomatic, materials testing, environmental, and project delivery services. This unique service bundling can be extended to various sectors, including energy and renewables, metals and minerals, fiber and chemicals, and infrastructure.

“Dynamysk continues to look for opportunities to grow value as it relates to our customers, our shareholders and most importantly our people,” said John Lisoway, president of Dynamysk. “When the Allnorth opportunity presented itself, we examined our synergies and realized that together, it checked off all the boxes.  Dynamysk wanted a partner who would complement what each had to offer, creating greater opportunity and value for our customers’ business (the one-stop-shop approach),  a partner that created opportunities for its people to grow, prosper and feel valued (built by people), a partner that shared common core social and fiscal values, and finally a partner who was in, and who understood, the services business.  The integration of Dynamysk with Allnorth is something I am very excited about and look forward to what the future brings.”    

Post acquisition, Dynamysk will continue to operate independently out of its Calgary and Sherwood Park offices, with a transition to Allnorth planned for later in the year. 

Allnorth is a privately held, multi-disciplinary engineering, project delivery and construction services company established in 1995. They service clients primarily in the metals and minerals, energy and renewables, fiber and chemicals and infrastructure sectors. They have offices across Canada, in the U.S. and Mexico.

Dynamysk is a privately owned Canadian company specializing in delivering fully integrated lifecycle solutions in the industrial Instrumentation, Controls (automation), Electrical (ICE) disciplines. This includes all phases of a project from engineering through fabrication, installation, inspections, commissioning and maintenance. Founded in 2006 and with office locations in Calgary, Alta. and Sherwood Park, Alta, Dynamysk has completed projects for clients in Canada, the U.S. and overseas.

Daryl Heppner, operations manager for Polycrete Restorations, is celebrating 30 years with BM Group.  Balraj Mann, CEO of Polycrete and BM Group chairman, said that “it is not an understatement to say Polycrete nor the BM Group would not be where it is today” without Heppner. 

Steve Van Hoffen has been appointed chief financial officer of Maple Reinders after serving the company in increasingly senior finance roles for over 17 years. Van Hoffen stated that he looks forward to supporting the business units to excel, contributing to the company’s strategic growth, and continuing his career at a company that aligns with his values.

Mark Wessel, is celebrating 20 years at Beedie where he works as director of IT.

Working at Beedie has been an amazing experience, mainly due to the opportunity to work with so many talented people, forming great friendships, and, best of all, falling in love and marrying a coworker over 14 years ago. Beedie has proven to be more than just a career for me; it has provided the foundation for a family, complete with a loving wife and kids!

– Wessel

Carla Parsons has been named director of business development – B.C. & Alberta at FINEX INC. Parsons stated that FINEX is a Canadian based, high-density fiber cement that’s about to change the dynamic in Western Canada. Prior to the role, she worked as director of communications for Canadian Construction Women (CCW). 

Frano Cavar will be expanding his role at the Calgary Construction Association to director of public affairs and external relations. He has spent more than two years at the association as director of government relations. 

Grant Grenier is starting a new position as construction & asphalt manager at Lafarge Canada. Prior to this, Grenier spent more than 20 years at Graham as a construction superintendent and a business development manager. 

Erin ElliottWesgroup Properties’ VP of accounting, has been appointed director of stakeholder relations for Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW).

John M. BeckAecon founder and chairman, has been appointed to the Order of Ontario, the province’s highest civilian honour. 

John M. Beck, founder and chairman, Aecon Group.

Cynthia Evenson has started a new job with Bird Construction as a senior proposal coordinator at its Edmonton office.

For those of you that know me, I previously worked at Stuart Olson in the Vancouver office and it was one of my favourite jobs based on the type of projects we built, the fantastic people and the office culture, so I’m thrilled to be working with the merged Bird and Stuart Olson team and getting to connect with former colleagues and new ones. 

– Evenson

Brandon Alpine, a Ktunaxa citizen, will be honoured with an educational bursary partnership at the College of the Rockies. Alpine, who passed away last year at age 39, was part of the Aecon Industrial West team and the Construction Maintenance & Allied Workers (CMAW) union. The bursary will be sponsored by Aecon, CMAW 2300 and Alpine’s mother, Janice. 

Pomerleau reached a major milestone this month. The company, along with its subsidiaries Borea Construction and ITC Construction, announced it now employs 5,000 people across the country. 

Jason Metcalfe has started a new position as acquisitions and development manager at Diverse Properties

Shawn Gray has joined The Net Effect team as its newest digital advisor and project manager. Recognized as one of Canada’s Top-40-under-40 in construction, Shawn brings over 15 years of cross-market experience in engineering, construction, and technology leadership, having successfully delivered construction projects exceeding $5 billion in value.

Christian Dover has been appointed president of Limen. Dover has more than 20 years of experience in the Canadian and U.S. construction industry.

I am excited and honoured to join the executive team at Limen and for the opportunity to continue to build on Limen’s reputation of delivering safe and successful projects to their strong, growing and loyal customer base. I look forward to working with the existing Limen management team to meet our growth and diversification goals.

– Dover

Emma Grimsrud of Saskatoon has won PCL Construction’s National Student Scholarship. Grimsrud was selected from 670 other students. She will receive a $5,000.

Matthew Rinfret has been appointed Inflector Environmental Services‘ new chief operating officer. His extensive background includes a 17-year tenure with a PCL where he oversaw operations and large-scale projects in the Ottawa and Montreal regions.

As I join Inflector, I am excited for the opportunity to contribute to Inflector’s continued growth and future success. Together with the existing dedicated team, I look forward to continuing to raise the bar on operational excellence and delivering high quality results for all of our trusted clients and partners.

– Matthew Rinfret

Shelley Gray, CEO of SkilledTradesBC has been named one of B.C.’s most influential women in business by Business in Vancouver.

Tanzila Rubayat has joined Infrastructure BC as a senior associate. Rubayat brings over ten years of infrastructure experience in a range of services such as capital municipal project management, planning, engineering design and construction management.

Anton Pojasok is PCL‘s new sustainability director. With more than 27 years experience, Pojasok will drive PCL’s strategic sustainability plan and road map including goal tracking, value added expertise and a range of services provided to clients and project teams related to sustainable design and construction. Prior to joining PCL, Pojasok was vice president of environmental management at Ontario Realty Corporation – Infrastructure Ontario.

‘Less is more’ is the essence of sustainability, from early planning through construction and building operations, there are cost-effective ways to reduce a structure’s impact on the environment with enhanced returns on investment.

– Pojasok

Dallas Hesse is celebrating 15 years with Westridge Construction where he works as a superintendent. He is currently managing the Moosomin Dam Spillway Improvements project in Saskatchewan.

Westridge crews work on the Moosomin Dam Spillway. – Westridge

Steve Schmalz is celebrating 25 years with PCL construction where he works as an operations manager in Ottawa. Following in his father’s footsteps, he first joined PCL’s Winnipeg office in 1999 as a field engineer. PCL’s team stated that Schmalz is a patient mentor with a wealth of knowledge.

Adam Hill has joined Metric Civil Contractors as their new director of finance. Prior to this role, Hill held various positions at North West Rubber.

Arsalan Zargar has been promoted to executive vice president of project delivery at Infrastructure Ontario. Officials noted that over the course of the past 4 years working as senior vice president, rail delivery, Arsalan has demonstrated exceptional leadership, extensive experience and formed strong partnerships with internal and external stakeholders, making him an invaluable asset to the organization.

RJC Engineers has announced five new principals and and eight new associates. They stated that with these new additions, RJC is poised to strengthen its position as an industry leader, capable of complex and challenging projects. The enhanced leadership team will further enable the firm to offer comprehensive engineering services, meeting the evolving needs of clients in various sectors.

Some of the new faces joining RJC Engineers. – RJC

Mike Woodroff has joined Kerkhoff as its new vice president of construction. Woodroff has nearly 40 years of experience in the industry and has successfully overseen a multitude of projects, differing in scale and complexity.

Tim Laronde has been appointed to Kindred Works‘ board of directors. Laronde serves as Chandos Construction’s director of Indigenous strategies. Prior to joining Chandos Construction, Tim spent over 15 years in the financial services industry where he led business development and capacity building through meaningful and respectful relationships with Indigenous communities.

I’m a big advocate of housing and am inspired by the Kindred Works approach to creating much needed rental housing across the country. I believe there’s a strong values alignment, with their social and environmental impact objectives.

– Laronde

Colleen Federchuk and Eithar Naman have been promoted to vice president of people and culture, and vice president of digital construction at Fitzrovia, respectively.

Andrew Clarke is celebrating 30 years with Beedie development. He first joined the company as an apprentice carpenter. He currently works as its senior director of construction operations.

There are so many great people that I have worked with over my career that make the projects memorable. I might not remember how we put together something on the project, but I remember the people who were involved and the good times that we had along the way.


Todd den Engelsen has been hired as the new CEO of Tahltan Nation Development Corporation.

Being Métis, the opportunity to work with an Indigenous business is very meaningful, and I am honoured to be joining TNDC. I have followed TNDC’s progress with admiration in recent years and am excited to apply my experience to growing TNDC’s reputation as a Tier 1 mining service provider, Indigenous Partner of Choice, and Employer of Choice.

– den Engelsen

Farzan Hosseini is Industra Construction Corporation’s new project manager for Ontario operations.

Derick Fluker, senior vice president of acquisitions and asset management at Wesgroup properties, has been appointed to the NAIOP Vancouver’s 2024 board of directors.

Joshua Gaglardi, president of Orion Construction, has also joined NAIOP Vancouver’s 2024 board of directors.

Key Takeaways:

  • The TNDC Mobile Training Centre is a 44-foot trailer that houses four simulators, each with its own unique operator training program including articulated trucks, dozers and loaders, excavators, and another program in development.
  • Based at the Red Chris mine within the Tahltan Nation’s traditional territory, the centre has the flexibility to relocate to other sites as needed.
  • Its primary objective is to support both the Tahltan HEO program and the TNDC Employee HEO training program.

The Whole Story:

B.C.’s construction and heavy equipment industry are turning to technology to train the next generation of equipment operators.

The Tahltan Nation Development Corporation (TNDC) and Finning Canada have launched the TNDC Mobile Training Centre. The training facility is equipped with cutting-edge simulators designed to provide comprehensive heavy equipment training.

The TNDC Mobile Training Centre is a 44-foot trailer designed for training purposes. It houses four simulators, each with its own unique operator training program including articulated trucks, dozers and loaders, excavators, and another program in development.

TNDC and Finning stated that the simulators offer learners a safe, virtual environment to develop their skills in operating Cat equipment. Based at the Red Chris mine within the Tahltan Nation’s traditional territory, the centre has the flexibility to relocate to other sites as needed. Its primary objective is to support both the Tahltan HEO program and the TNDC Employee HEO training program. 

“We are thrilled to unveil the TNDC Mobile Training Centre,” said Colleen Cashin, VP of people and corporate culture at TNDC. “The vision for the TNDC Mobile Training Centre will be to build capacity for Tahltans, our employees and to improve career growth opportunities. It is through partnerships with partners like Finning that we are able to facilitate growth of our people and ongoing growth of our development corporation. Today, we say thank you to our friends at Finning.”

Finning and TNDC showcase their new training simulators at AME Roundup in Vancouver. – Finning

The TNDC Mobile Training Centre facilitates the training of 80-120 staff members each year, equipping them with upskilling opportunities and providing training for new operators. TNDC noted that the mobile training centre not only supports the onboarding of new employees but also enhances employee retention and productivity, while concurrently reducing recruitment and onboarding expenses.

“When we had the chance to partner with our long-standing customer and provide the TNDC with a mobile training center, we didn’t hesitate to say yes,” said Cheryl Gray, senior vice president of mining at Finning Canada. “Simulator training provides a safe, hands-on experience for learners using the same controls and machine applications found in real-world worksites. We are excited to support the Tahltans in developing the skills they need to become certified Heavy Equipment Operators.”

In addition to providing the four simulators, the Finning team is supporting the installation and troubleshooting of the equipment and the training of Tahltan instructors. The two partners stated that this represents a substantial investment acknowledging the collective commitment between the TNDC and Finning to build a talent pipeline for future Heavy Equipment Operators in the Tahltan community. Once in operation, TNDC will be responsible for operating and maintaining the trailer and running all of the training programs.  

Nathan Levinson is the president and founder of Royal York, a massive property management company based in Toronto. They manage tens of thousands of units and more than $10 billion in assets. We caught up with Levinson to chat housing predictions, technology and what his sector can do to address the country’s affordable housing crisis.

SiteNews: With 22,000 properties under management and $10.1 billion in assets, what sort of trends are you and Royal York seeing right now in the Canadian housing market? 

Nathan Levinson: Managing over 22,000 properties and $10.1 billion in assets at Royal York Property Management, we’re observing a critical trend: growing tenants struggling to pay rent due to economic pressures. This, coupled with rising mortgage rates, is creating a challenging scenario for landlords. We’re bracing for what I call a ‘real estate bloodbath,’ where both sides of the rental equation are under immense pressure. It’s a situation that demands innovative solutions and proactive management, which is where Royal York steps in.

Can property management firms like Royal York play a role in addressing Canada’s affordable housing crisis? 

Property management firms like Royal York Property Management have a vital role in this climate of financial strain. We’re not just managing properties; we’re also navigating complex situations where tenants can’t afford rent, and property owners are facing increased mortgage rates. Our role extends to advocating for sustainable solutions and providing practical support to tenants and property owners in these trying times.

What helps create a stable and reliable housing market? 

The current market’s volatility highlights the need for stability and reliability. This is achieved through empathetic tenant management, proactive property maintenance, and strategic financial planning for property owners. Our approach at Royal York is centered around understanding and mitigating the challenges tenants and landlords face.

What role do technology and data play in Royal York’ Property Management’s operations?

Technology and data are the lifeblood of Royal York. In this rapidly changing market, they are more crucial than ever. We employ advanced AI and machine learning algorithms for tenant screening, ensuring a low default rate. Our use of AI for tenant screening and market analysis helps us anticipate and navigate the challenges ahead. Our proprietary software allows for efficient property management, from maintenance to legal services. We’re not just a property management firm but a tech company revolutionizing the real estate sector.

Is there any technology that is currently on your radar or that has you excited? 

Our upcoming platform, Mateem.io, is what excites us the most. Envisioned as the Airbnb of long-term rentals, it’s set to revolutionize the property rental market. Amidst these challenges, Mateem.io is a beacon of innovation designed to streamline the rental process, making it seamless for property owners and tenants. This platform will be pivotal in managing the current crisis, offering seamless, efficient solutions in a more turbulent market than ever, and providing critical support to tenants and landlords.

What are some of the biggest challenges the property management industry faces today? 

The industry is currently facing unprecedented challenges. The impending ‘bloodbath’ due to non-payment of rent and rising mortgage rates is a prime concern. Our challenge is not just in managing properties but in navigating these financial complexities and providing viable solutions to both tenants and landlords.

What are your predictions for the 2024 housing market? 

Heading into 2024, I’m calling it as I see it – we’re on the cusp of a major shift in the Canadian housing market, GTA included. We’re already feeling the squeeze from climbing mortgage rates and the economic climate. This isn’t just a Toronto story; it’s unfolding across Canada.

We’re likely to see a readjustment in various regions’ property values. Sure, areas with high demand might stand their ground, but many others will see a dip in property prices. It’s not just a simple downturn; it’s a recalibration of the market.

Tell me about dropping out of University to running Canada’s largest property management company with 10.1 billions assets under management. What have been some of your keys to success?

Starting Royal York Property Management from the backseat of my car after dropping out of university was a leap of faith, driven by a vision to reform the inefficiencies in the rental market and the mistreatment of tenants by landlords. My early years working with my high school principal, handling maintenance, rent collection, advertising, and property showings, were eye-opening. They highlighted the critical need for positive landlord-tenant relationships and revealed the significant gaps in the market. This experience was the cornerstone of Royal York, a name inspired by a street sign sighting during a cold call, symbolizing our humble beginnings.

The keys to our success at Royal York have been multifaceted. Embracing technology and innovation, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowed us not only to survive but to thrive and expand, improving our services for both tenants and landlords. Our approach was not just to offer rental guarantees for landlords, but to create a balanced ecosystem benefiting all parties. This philosophy, stemming from my personal experiences as a mistreated tenant, led to the cultivation of an extensive database of over 200,000 pre-qualified tenant contacts, enabling efficient property rentals. The journey has taught me the importance of resilience, a structured approach, and the power of a vision shared with a growing network. These elements have been instrumental in transforming Royal York into the industry leader it is today.

Key Takeaways:

  • The ambassadors are from a cross-section of the trades and many are in the process of completing their apprenticeships. Many are young women.
  • So far 2,500 students have participated in workshops within the first three months of the program.
  • It’s expected that the program will reach approximately 5,000 students by the end of the school year.

The Whole Story:

The College of the BC Building Trades has launched its Trade Ambassador program with the aim of attracting more young people to the sector. The program is made up of young members of the building trades — like Kirsty Lawton — who volunteer to go into schools across B.C. to talk with students.

A member of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Ironworkers (Ironworkers Local 97), Lawton said she volunteered because she became interested in the trades after a construction company visited her classroom. She went on to participate in a rebar bootcamp with Local 97, then went to work.

“If I didn’t see that presentation, I probably wouldn’t have even heard of [rebar], to be honest,” she said. “At first, I thought ‘no way,’ but it was great. So I’m enjoying it a lot. I’m making lots of money.”

Lawton, who graduated from high school last year, has already worked on major projects across the Lower Mainland.

The Trades Ambassador program has developed at lightning speed since Layne Clark took over the project. She is the director of workforce development for the BC Building Trades (BCBT).

“We’ve recruited more than 20 young workers, all under the age of 35, to talk to students about their experiences in construction and not just to represent their own trade, but to talk about all of the building trades,” said Clark.

So far, the uptake has been strong, with about 2,500 students participating in workshops within the first three months of the program, which kicked off in September. There has been overwhelmingly positive feedback from teachers and students and Clark estimates the program will reach approximately 5,000 students by the end of the school year.

“What makes this program so powerful is that it’s young people talking to young people about their experiences,” said Clark.

It’s a formula designed to reach those who may know a bit about apprenticeships and the trades and are willing to listen when their peers share stories with them. The ambassadors are from a cross-section of the trades and many are in the process of completing their apprenticeships. Many are young women.

The Trades Ambassador program was developed with the input of BCBT affiliates and trades teachers across the high school system. It’s tailored to reach Grade 10 students but is also meant to educate the public generally about the respect and prestige that comes along with skilled trades, said Clark.

The program also provides leadership experience for young BCBT members. The volunteers, who received training at four different College of the BC Building Trades schools, were also coached in public speaking. They will have ongoing support as they go into schools and present a workshop that broadly introduces students to construction, the apprenticeship process and the 22 trades.

Travis Woolford, training coordinator for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 115 (IUOE Local 115), didn’t hesitate when asked if he wanted to be involved.

“I was fully on board and volunteered right away,” said Woolford, who added that programs like the Trades Ambassadors open doors for young people.

“You don’t need a university ticket to be financially stable and have a good work-life balance,” he said. “There’s so many avenues and things you can go down. You’re going to school and you’re getting paid, and you’re not accumulating all of that debt. If you want to do more with it, you can,” he said. “If you put in the work, you’re going to get recognized.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Construction roles represented a one-quarter of all job vacancies (30,500) in the city in Q3 of 2023.
  • The shortage spans a spectrum of positions, including skilled trades, project management, and various specialized roles crucial to construction projects of all sizes.
  • The Calgary Construction Association stated that addressing the shortage of workers requires a coordinated effort from government stakeholders, the K-12 education system, post-secondary institutions, industry and broader society.

The Whole Story:

According to data analyzed by Alberta Jobs, Economy and Trade, there were 7,560 construction trades and management job vacancies in the Calgary economic region in Q3 2023, representing a one-quarter of all job vacancies (30,500) in the city.

The Calgary Construction Association stated that the data, compiled by Statistics Canada, underscores a critical challenge faced by the construction industry, which plays a pivotal role in fueling economic growth, infrastructure development, and job creation within Calgary.

“The construction industry is the backbone of Calgary’s development, and the current job vacancies present a significant impediment to the projects that drive our city forward,” said Bill Black, President and COO of the Calgary Construction Association.

The shortage spans a spectrum of positions, including skilled trades, project management, and various specialized roles crucial to construction projects of all sizes.

“This shortage not only impacts the pace of ongoing projects but also poses a potential threat to the timely construction of new infrastructure on the horizon. It’s a multifaceted challenge that requires immediate attention and collaborative solutions,” said Black. “What happens when you struggle to find the workers needed to build the housing and civic infrastructure required for a growing City? Costs increase, projects are delayed, and affordability tanks.”

The Calgary Construction Association is calling on stakeholders, including government bodies, educational institutions, and industry partners, to work together in addressing the root causes of the labour shortage.

“Addressing this labour shortage is not just the responsibility of the construction industry. It requires a coordinated effort from government stakeholders, the K-12 education system, post-secondary institutions, industry and broader society to ensure a sustainable and skilled workforce for the future,” stated Black.

The CCA remains committed to fostering dialogue and collaboration to find effective, long-term solutions that will strengthen Calgary’s construction industry and support constructing the Calgary of the future.

Key Takeaways:

  • Webuild is leading a joint venture that will carry out more than $1 billion in Ontario Line work.
  • The work includes developing and building the Pape Tunnel and Underground Stations portion of the Line. 
  • Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas Canada Ltd. (FCC Canada) is part of the joint venture.

The Whole Story:

The Webuild Group will lead a joint venture to carry out work on the first phase of development for a portion of the Ontario Line. The Group, in a joint venture with Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas Canada Ltd. (FCC Canada), has signed a contract for an estimated total value of approximately $1-2 billion to develop and build the Pape Tunnel and Underground Stations (PTUS) section of the Ontario Line. 

Webuild stated that the final contract value will be determined by the detailed design, included in the contract. The new subway line will run through Toronto, where the population is expected to increase rapidly from 6 million citizens now to over 8 million by 2030. 

Webuild, with a 50% share, is leading the joint venture, which will design and construct the works, commissioned by Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx. The PTUS contract for the Ontario Line North will be executed as a Progressive Design-Build. The model involves close collaboration between the client, contractor, and designer. The team believes this will create lower execution risks in the start-up and construction phases of the project. 

As a whole, the PTUS contract provides for the design, construction, supply and operation of three kilometres of twin tunnels, two underground stations, the interface with Toronto Transit Commission’s Line 2 subway and related works. The Ontario Line will run from Eglinton Crosstown LRT (Line 5) at Don Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue in the northeast to Exhibition Place in the southwest. It is expected to cut travel times on the route to less than 30 minutes compared to the current 70 minutes. 

The Ontario Line will extend 15.6 kilometres with 15 stations, six intermodal hubs and more than 40 connections with existing subway, streetcar, light-rail transit and regional rail lines and bus services. Webuild is already implementing, with the Connect 6ix consortium, the Rolling Stock, Systems, Operations and Maintenance (RSSOM) package of works for the Ontario Line, which includes designing and implementing signalling, communication, and safety systems, supplying rolling stock, and carrying out the line’s operation and maintenance. 

The PTUS contract will be the third sustainable mobility project being built in Canada for Webuild. In addition to the RSSOM and PTUS packages of the Ontario Line, the Group is also carrying out the Hurontario project with the Mobilinx consortium, to build a light rail line that will run 18 kilometres, near Toronto, along Hurontario Street. 

The scope of work for the contract includes:

  • Three kilometres of twin tunnels underneath Pape Avenue between the Gerrard portal and the Don Valley bridge
  • Underpinning of the existing TTC Pape Station on Line 2.
  • Two underground stations (Pape and Cosburn) and two portals
  • Three emergency exit buildings/emergency services buildings
  • A rail switch/crossover in the section of tunnel near Sammon Avenue 
  • Interface with Line 2 TTC subway

Key Takeaways:

  • The US$3.5 billion deal includes Tricon’s multi-family development platform in Toronto.
  • The company plans to complete its US$2.5 billion development pipeline of 5,500 new apartments in Canada.
  • The company’s single-family business in the U.S. has approximately 2,500 homes under development. 

The Whole Story:

Blackstone, the world’s largest alternative asset manager, plans to purchase Tricon Residential in a US$3.5 billion deal.

Blackstone and Tricon Residential announced that they have entered into an arrangement agreement under which Blackstone Real Estate Partners X together with Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust, Inc. (BREIT) will acquire all outstanding common shares of Tricon. The transaction price represents a premium of 30% to Tricon’s closing share price on the NYSE on January 18, 2024, the last trading day prior to the announcement of the Transaction, and a 42% premium to the volume weighted average share price on the NYSE over the previous 90 days, and equates to a $3.5 billion equity transaction value based on fully-diluted shares outstanding. BREIT will maintain its approximately 11% ownership stake post-closing.

Tricon provides rental homes and apartments, along with resident services through its tech-enabled operating platform and dedicated on-the-ground operating teams. Tricon serves communities in high-growth markets such as Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Tampa and Phoenix as well as Toronto, Canada. In addition to managing a single-family rental housing portfolio, Tricon has a single-family rental development platform in the U.S. with approximately 2,500 houses under development, as well as numerous land development projects that can support the future development of nearly 21,000 single-family homes.

The company also has a Canadian multifamily development platform that is building approximately 5,500 market-rate and affordable multifamily rental apartments.

“We are proud of the significant and immediate value that this transaction will deliver to our shareholders, while allowing us to continue providing an exceptional rental experience for our residents. Blackstone shares our values and our unwavering commitment to resident satisfaction, and we look forward to benefitting from their expertise and capital as we partner in building thriving communities,” said Gary Berman, president & CEO of Tricon.

Under Blackstone’s ownership, the company plans to complete its US$1 billion development pipeline of new single-family rental homes in the U.S. and US$2.5 billion of new apartments in Canada (together with its existing joint venture partners). The company will also continue to enhance the quality of existing single-family homes in the U.S. through an additional US$1 billion of planned capital projects over the next several years.

“Tricon provides access to high-quality housing, and we are fully committed to delivering an exceptional resident experience together,” said Nadeem Meghji, global co-head of Blackstone Real Estate. “We are excited that our capital will propel Tricon’s efforts to add much needed housing supply across the U.S. and in Toronto.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Schneider Electric is embarking on a major project at Vancouver International Airport.
  • The project involves modernizing YVR’s existing installed products to cut capital costs for the airport with minimal operational disruption.
  • The work is expected to help the airport’s goal of becoming net zero by 2030 

The Whole Story:

Schneider Electric is partnering with Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to improve operational reliability and workplace safety, supporting the airport’s goal to become net zero carbon by 2030. 

The two are no strangers. Schneider has spent decades working with the airport on major expansions. Schneider Electric’s proposed modernization of YVR’s existing installed products is expected to significantly cut capital costs for the airport with minimal operational disruption.

“Schneider Electric is proud to supply a comprehensive roadmap and support for YVR to help facilitate the modernization and digital transformation of one of Canada’s largest and busiest airports,” says Courtney Forget, vice president, services, Schneider Electric. “We are thrilled to extend our ongoing relationship with YVR, working side-by-side as one team, and providing solutions on their electrical distribution systems to ensure we’re fostering a sustainable and reliable airport environment.”

The digital transformation of YVR’s energy system is expected to play a large role in operational reliability and help reduce emissions. One of the first projects Schneider Electric embarked on was to eliminate operational risks and improve occupational safety by upgrading the airport’s install base. Schneider Electric says it will continue to help YVR with their Energy Management Information System, a solution using Schneider Electric’s Resource Advisor and EcoStruxure Power Operation for carbon emission monitoring built on top of existing monitoring systems, which will help the airports efforts toward their 2030 net-zero goals.

“At YVR we are focused on energy conservation and electrification across our operations to reduce carbon emissions and strengthen the green economy,” said Christoph Rufenacht, vice president, Airport Development & Asset Optimization at YVR. “Working with Schneider Electric, we will enhance how we monitor and manage our energy use, optimize our current energy infrastructure, and explore innovative solutions to maximize carbon reduction. We are pleased to extend our long-time partnership and look forward to creating a greener, more sustainable future at YVR with Schneider Electric.”

YVR is expecting to invest $135-million over 10 years to become net zero by 2030 and, in achieving this goal, become one of the world’s greenest airports. This includes a commitment to meet operational requirements more efficiently and use less energy for heating and cooling, cooking, lighting, and other electrical needs.

Ask any construction business what their biggest challenge is, chances are it’s finding enough qualified workers to get their projects done.

According to BuildForce Canada, overall hiring requirements in the industry are expected to exceed 299,000 by 2032 due to the retirement of approximately 245,000 workers (20% of the 2022 labour force) and growth in worker demand of more than 54,000. They are predicting a possible retirement-recruitment gap of more than 61,000 workers.

Gone are the days of classifieds in the newspaper. The vast majority of jobseekers and employers are connecting online. Here are a few construction-specific job boards that could help the industry make these connections faster.

ICBA and Kibbi

There is always strength in numbers. The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association and its roughly 4,000 members have partnered with Calgary-based employment tech company Kibbi to help connect construction companies and jobseekers. Kibbi began as a closely knit group of new Canadians and international students. After relocating, each of them struggled to land permanent jobs. They decided to develop an app to make the job market more accessible and inclusive.

Construction Job Site

Construction Job Site is the official job board of more than a dozen industry websites and magazines, including Canadian Consulting Engineer, On-Site, Electrical Business and more that fall under the umbrella of Annex Business Media.

Construction Canada

Construction Canada, official publication of Construction Specifications Canada, also dabbles in job postings. The publication’s job board covers many corners of the industry, including architectural, engineering, design, drafting, contracting, commercial, residential, institutional and more.

Construction Ontario

A service offered by Employment Ontario with funding from the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario, this board is a great resource for those looking for work in the east. Beyond its job board, Construction Ontario is a virtual learning hub for industry training. It provides support to employers and employees through employer-based instruction and innovative training solutions.


BILDcareers is the official job platform of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD GTA) which connects top construction job seekers with the top construction jobs in the GTA. BILD says the goal is to make hiring and getting hired in construction easier for everyone. The organization boasts roughly 1,300 member companies.

Construction Job Centre

Looking for work out west? Construction associations in B.C. have you covered. Developed by a partnership of the province’s four construction associations, the Construction Job Centre offers employers an affordable, efficient and dedicated recruitment tool to find the people they need.  It also provides job seekers with the opportunity to post their profiles and be matched to employers’ job requirements.

Construction Jobs Daily

The name says it all. They post construction jobs in the Toronto area and they do it daily on their LinkedIn page. Their efforts have garnered their team more than 12,000 followers. Recent job posts include construction controller for Zehr Group, site superintendent at Prodigy Group and construction director at Aecon Group.


Yep, that’s right. In addition to bringing you news, we also have a job board where we curate and post high level construction roles. Our overall mission is to equip, educate and elevate the Canadian construction sector. Finding qualified workers is probably the biggest issue the industry currently faces. We want to be part of the solution by helping connect jobseekers with the most exciting positions the industry has to offer. But if you don’t have time to keep tabs on all the new postings, we do a weekly round up called Hot Jobs every Friday.

Key Takeaways:

  • B.C. Premier David Eby announced a $36-billion investment for community and regional infrastructure projects that will deliver electricity.
  • This represents an increase of 50% over BC Hydro’s previous capital plan.
  • These new construction projects are projected to support 10,500 to 12,500 jobs on average annually.
  • The province and BC Hydro are also implementing a new streamlined, one-window approval process to speed up approvals

The Whole Story:

BC Hydro plans to embark on an “unprecedented level of construction” over the next 10 years, building out the province’s electricity system. 

“We must expand our electrical system like never before, to power industrial development, to power our homes and businesses, to power our future,” said Premier David Eby. “Clean, affordable energy will help us meet that opportunity, while reducing pollution, securing good-paying jobs and creating new opportunities for our growing economy.”

Investing billions

At the B.C. Natural Resources Forum in Prince George, Eby announced a $36-billion investment for community and regional infrastructure projects that will deliver electricity to people and businesses in the future. 

BC Hydro’s updated 10-year capital plan, Power Pathway: Building BC’s energy future, includes almost $36 billion in community and regional infrastructure investments throughout the province between 2024-25 and 2033-34. This represents an increase of 50% over BC Hydro’s previous capital plan ($24 billion), and includes a significant increase in electrification and emissions-reduction infrastructure projects (nearly $10 billion, up from $1 billion).

These new construction projects are projected to support 10,500 to 12,500 jobs on average annually, and will increase and maintain BC Hydro’s capital investments as major projects like Site C are completed.

Officials say the plan reflects growing demand for electricity across sectors due to population growth and housing construction, increased industrial development, and people and businesses switching from fossil fuels to clean electricity, among other factors. It includes:

  • building new high-voltage transmission lines and supporting infrastructure from Prince George to Terrace to meet industrial customer demand in the north coast area, including in the mining sector;
  • building or expanding substations and installing new equipment to support residential housing growth and transit electrification in high-growth areas across the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island; and
  • upgrading B.C.’s dams and generating facilities to make them safer, more reliable and more efficient.

“We’re taking action to build a clean energy future and create thousands of construction jobs for skilled workers as major infrastructure projects like Site C reach completion,” said Josie Osborne, minister of energy, mines and low carbon innovation. “Together with our first call for power in over 15 years, BC Hydro’s new capital plan – with almost $4 billion in spending every year for the next decade – will drive economic growth for communities all over the province and ensure households and businesses can power up with clean, reliable and affordable electricity.”

BC Hydro’s goal is to acquire new sources of clean, renewable electricity, including wind and solar. They argue that B.C. is well positioned to add additional intermittent renewables to the grid as its integrated, flexible system of hydro-electric dams act as batteries. The reservoirs store water and allow BC Hydro to ramp production up or down almost instantly, providing a reliable back up for when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.

“Our electricity grid is already one of the cleanest in the world, and to meet the scale and pace of what’s required, we need to invest in our system and build for the future,” said Chris O’Riley, president and CEO of BC Hydro. “We have already taken significant steps toward sourcing the clean electricity needed to meet the future demand, and we are now embarking on the next step, our $36 billion 10-year capital plan, which includes everything from investing in our generation assets and large transmission infrastructure to the substations and local wires that deliver power to homes and businesses across the province.”

Streamlining approvals

In addition to the 10-year capital plan, Eby announced that the province and BC Hydro are implementing a new streamlined, one-window approval process to speed up approvals to get electricty to in-demand industries faster, and to support jobs.

“Industrial greenhouse gas emissions make up about 40% of B.C.’s total, so we need to work closely with the private sector to electrify rapidly to meet our CleanBC climate goals by 2030 and keep B.C. industries strong and competitive,” said George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy. “This new, one-window approach will help companies reach final investment decisions sooner so they can move to a decarbonized future that will benefit our province for generations to come and meet the growing global demand and opportunities for low carbon commodities.”

The process will result in the Climate Action Secretariat and BC Hydro managing streamlined approvals for industrial electrification projects between the CleanBC Industry Fund and BC Hydro’s Large Customer Low Carbon Electrification programs. Officials say that transitioning to a one-window process will speed up approvals, increase efficiency, and deliver more funding certainty for proponents.

Power crisis in the prairies

The announcement comes at a time when record-breaking weather prompted the province of Alberta to issue an emergency alert warning residents to conserve power due to increased demand. The province stated that extreme cold resulting in high power demand placed the Alberta grid at a high risk of rotating power outages. Officials asked Albertans to do the following:

  • Albertans are asked to immediately limit their electricity use to essential needs only
  • Turn off unnecessary lights and electrical appliances
  • Minimize the use of space heaters
  • Delay use of major power appliances
  • Delay charging electrical vehicles and plugging in block heaters
  • Cook with microwave instead of stove

One of Alberta’s recently announced strategies to address power concerns is exploring nuclear reactors.

Key Takeaways:

  • A growing group of construction professionals has been hitting the trails every week in Metro Vancouver.
  • Organizers say it has been a great way to encourage non-traditional networking.
  • It also encourages healthy ways to destress after work and get advice from other professionals.

The Whole Story:

Every Sunday morning, a group gathers in North Vancouver, B.C. to trek through the mountains, discuss the industry’s biggest topics and connect with others in the construction sector. The group is growing fast, now with more than 120 active members that form a rotating crew of 15-20 hikers each weekend. 

The origins go back 20 years when engineering school pals Jesse Unke and Shervin Teymouri began doing the Grouse Grind on Wednesday nights or Sunday mornings. 

“It was just me and Shervin and it got me into doing the Grouse Grind. We had been doing that consistently for years,” said Unke.

A lot has changed since then. Shervin went into the mining sector and is now president and CEO of Red Paramount Iron as well as the founder and principal mining engineer for Mineit Consulting. Unke has lent his talents to the construction sector, working at several major firms before becoming the president and CEO of Maven Consulting

Unke also recently added the role of “father” to his list of responsibilities, which has changed his schedule and priorities. Rather than being able to go out for a beer in the evenings to network with colleagues and clients, Unke began inviting people to join him on the trails. 

Hike Club members brave the snow on some B.C. trails. – Jesse Unke

“Now that I have a baby at home, things have changed,” said Unke. “I want to be home for dinner time, story time, bath time, so I started saying ‘come get a workout with me’. People started joining me and we made a LinkedIn group.”

The hikes start with a group photo at the bottom as well as a topic of discussion for the journey up.

“It’s a great way to build your network. At the bottom we go around so people can say what organization they are with, how they got tied to the hike club, and then we have a topic of discussion that is figured out ahead of time. It can be how to deal with risk management, your approach to retaining staff,” said Unke. 

The group then can chat about the topic on the way up and share ideas. 

“It has been great because it has allowed me to stay in touch with folks, meet new people and get a workout at the same time,” said Unke. “I have nothing against getting a beer, but with a young baby, I want to be home in the evenings.”  

Unke noted that regular exercise has been a critical part of maintaining his physical and mental health in a stressful industry. 

“It’s just as much physical as it is mental. You get some fresh air, clear your head. I do some of my best thinking while hiking and since it’s a Sunday, I am thinking about the coming week. It’s an energizing way to end one week and begin another,” said Unke. “It’s an outlet to get rid of stress, clear the head, challenge myself to reach certain milestones in fitness as well as with pursuing a project or client in my professional goals.”

Unke added that the social distancing required during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic showed him how important face-to-face networking is. 

“Trying to network over Teams and Zoom was awkward and painful,” he said. “When doing in person, this can be more informal, you read body language, things are more organic. Networking in engineering and construction is important because the construction is about relationships. You want to work with people you can trust and rely on.”

Unke stressed that while the group is mostly made up of construction and engineering professionals, all are welcome and encouraged to join the LinkedIn group

Key Takeaways:

  • Lafarge and nidus3D are partnering on a 3D-printed housing project to reduce its carbon footprint.
  • The project team will use Lafarge’s OneChem cement which can reduce carbon emissions by up to 10%.
  • The project named “Kakatoosoyiists” (Star Lodge) will consist of four buildings, comprising a total of sixteen units, each specifically designed to provide a supportive haven for individuals of SikSika Nation fleeing domestic violence or facing homelessness.

The Whole Story:

Lafarge Canada partnering with nidus3D in supplying its OneCem low-carbon cement in Canada’s largest 3D-printed housing project, aimed at addressing the acute housing challenges faced by the SikSika Nation.

While nidus3D has successfully completed 3D-printed housing projects in Ontario, this marks the first venture of its kind in Alberta. Located one hour’s drive east from the city of Calgary, the project named “Kakatoosoyiists” (Star Lodge) will consist of four buildings, comprising a total of sixteen units, each specifically designed to provide a supportive haven for individuals of SikSika Nation fleeing domestic violence or facing homelessness.

According to Lafarge, the initiative directly confronts a pressing issue underscored by the Social Planning & Research Council of Hamilton. According to their report, Indigenous peoples in Canadian cities are eight times more likely to face homelessness compared to the general population. 

Lafarge is supplying its OneCem low-carbon cement for this project, recognized for its ability to deliver a reduced carbon footprint. When manufactured, the higher limestone content of OneCem translates into a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions—up to 10% when compared to traditional Portland cement. OneCem achieves this sustainable advantage while maintaining its strength, durability, performance and workability. 

“Our shared goal with nidus3D extends beyond mere innovation,” says Brad Kohl, president and CEO of Lafarge Canada (West). “This project is about helping address the critical housing needs of the nation and foster a resilient, inclusive future through sustainable construction practices. We were proud to contribute to this project.”

nidus3D, a leading innovator in 3D-printed housing, is excited to bring its expertise to Alberta.

“Nidus3D is honoured and energized to be working with Siksika First Nation and Lafarge Canada on this innovative Canadian first,” says Ian Arthur, nidus3D’s president. “This multi-build development will not only provide much needed housing but show the immense potential of 3D construction printing to address Canada’s housing crisis. This project will demonstrate efficiencies and savings the technology can deliver through rapid, repeatable construction.”

Lafarge added that they believe the collaboration stands as a testament to the potential of combining expertise, resources, and a shared commitment to building not just structures but sustainable, supportive communities for a brighter future. The project is expected to be completed by March 31st, 2024.

Key Takeaways:

  • Employers want diverse spaces with added functional amenities that create a “home away from home” for workers.
  • Biophilic designs have become increasingly crucial for promoting mental health.
  • Hootsuite has successfully drawn employees back to the office by investing in recording studios, cozy pods, inviting lounges, and well-stocked kitchens. 
  • Rather than being homogenous, spaces are now designed with flexibility as a cornerstone, featuring collaborative workspaces, hot desking options, and functional areas.

The Whole Story:

What does the modern office look like?

Real estate and design experts gathered in Vancouver, B.C. to tackle that question at a roundtable discussion on the workplace of the future and current trends in office design.  

The roundtable discussion featured: 

Lee shared that gone are the days of traditional office spaces. To cater to Vancouver’s changing workforce, especially as more employees return to the office, employers are now looking at diverse spaces with added functional amenities, like pods, to accommodate various work and collaboration needs. 

The event featured a special look at Marco Polo, a state-of-the-art lifestyle business hub featuring AAA strata office units. – Gryphon

She noted that dynamic and adaptable workspaces are also being favoured over offices with static walls. Offices that emphasize modular furniture and walls foster a more versatile and responsive environment, which resonates with a wide variety of potential tenants. 

Lee also shared that biophilic designs have become increasingly crucial for promoting mental health, as exemplified in the design philosophy of Marco Polo, such as speakers that mimic natural sounds. 

Moving into 2024, Emily stated that “hotelification” of office spaces, turning offices into a luxurious “home away from home”, will be a key trend with a wide array of wellness offerings that will continue to be popular.

Bringing softer vibes into the office with the utilization of strategically chosen materials and finishes plays an integral role in employees wanting to stay and work in the office. Lee explained that these well-rounded spaces give the end-users the flexibility to customize their experience based on their individual preferences, making it more enticing to come back to work. 

Waldmann shared Hootsuite’s strategic emphasis on providing employees the autonomy to choose their work environment, be it from the comfort of their homes or within the office premises. 

She stated that Hootsuite has successfully drawn employees back to the office by investing in enticing amenities, including recording studios, cozy pods, inviting lounges, and well-stocked kitchens brimming with a variety of snacks. 

These amenities, thoughtfully tailored to individual preferences, coupled with initiatives fostering human connection, address the inherent longing for interpersonal relationships among employees who have been working remotely. Coming out of the pandemic, Hootsuite consolidated three Vancouver offices into a singular, innovative workspace. Departing from traditional desk configurations, the company has introduced flexible workspaces, incorporating lounges, pods, and dedicated focus areas. This approach affords employees a diverse range of workspaces to choose from, enhancing both productivity and well-being. 

Waldmann also shared that incorporating forward-thinking trends such as individual stall washrooms, Braille signage, and mobility amenities will be critical, cultivating a work environment that prioritizes diversity and inclusion. 

Burgar shared that for the tech industry, individuals want environments that foster creativity; thus, having dedicated spaces tailored to their innovative needs is hugely important. He also shared that the surge in Vancouver’s tech market necessitates the development of spaces not only to accommodate the growing influx but also to retain talent by offering amenities like gyms and food courts that contribute to a vibrant city lifestyle. 

Dan is currently working on creating a 150,000-square-foot innovation hub to bring entrepreneurs, creators, and start-ups together to turn Vancouver into one of the world leaders in technology and share optimism about the future of the tech industry in Vancouver. Dan explained that it is essential for office spaces to be intentional, cultivating specific “vibes,” bringing souls into the spaces where they work, and building small neighbourhoods and communities within larger areas to enhance the overall work and living experience.

Ollek highlighted a notable surge in employees returning to the office, emphasizing the growing necessity for adaptable work environments. Recognizing that a company’s functionality is intricately tied to the spaces they inhabit, businesses are strategically opting for a diverse range of office setups. This includes the incorporation of private offices catering to executive teams and open-layout workspaces fostering collaborative efforts among employees. Ollek underlined the pivotal role played by amenities in the workspace, which has been a driving force in enticing employees back to the office. 

According to Ollek, this trend gained momentum in the latter half of 2023 and is anticipated to persist throughout 2024. Notably, spaces are now designed with flexibility as a cornerstone, featuring collaborative workspaces, hot desking options, and functional areas that align with the evolving needs of tenants. A palpable shift is observed as tenants actively seek changes in how they utilize their spaces, prompting intentional and tailored designs for workspaces.